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Indiana undergraduate enrollment down – The DePauw

The Indiana Commission on Higher Education (CHE) reported a 2.6% drop in college enrollment in the fall, with Indiana University Bloomington and Purdue West Lafayette numbers increasing. As of now, only 59% of Indiana’s residents are enrolled in college, bringing the state to its lowest level in more than 10 years.

According to Alison Coer, director of communications and public relations for the Indiana Commission on Higher Education, the decline in college enrollment is a national trend that has affected Indiana significantly.

The Indiana Commission on Higher Education researched the decline in enrollment by sending out surveys to high school students. The research concluded that the question of the value of higher education is now at a much higher rate than it was in the past due to the increased cost of college enrollment. Furthermore, many students do not want to take on the burden of student loans to attend college because they can make an immediate financial impact on their lives by accepting the minimum wage. According to CHE research, there are a large number of negative messages about post-secondary education that influence the decision-making process of high school graduates about whether or not they want to go to college.

“When you go on Twitter or Reddit, you constantly hear from people who have had negative experiences in higher education, especially those who have huge student debt. There are positive stories as well but unfortunately, negative stories are much louder,” Kohr said.

The goal of CHE is to amplify positive voices, address students who are skeptical about higher education, and reassure those who wish to attend college so that they can understand the value of college.

Emma Nguyen, 20, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, decided not to pursue her higher education.

“I don’t know what I wanted to do professionally, so I didn’t want to take out loans when I didn’t have a clear path of what I was going to do in college. I think going to college is not a smart decision financially unless you want to,” said Nguyen. Become a doctor, lawyer or engineer.

Nguyen doesn’t know if she will pursue an undergraduate degree and doesn’t want to go into medicine, law or engineering just because these fields offer job stability. Instead, you’re considering a cheaper and unconventional path: trade schools. She notes that four-year colleges are too expensive for many Americans and encourages increased conversation about non-traditional career choices.

High school graduates want to hear stories from their ilk; For example, students who may have had to take out student loans but because of a higher education, have a high paying job and are able to make student loan payments and live a fulfilling life,” Kohr said.

The drop in numbers was exacerbated by the economic impact of COVID-19. In particular, many students left higher education to provide childcare for their families. Some decided not to pursue post-secondary education due to the many job opportunities available. As a result, high school graduates were able to find work without having to go to higher education.

Additionally, there are gaps in college-going rates depending on students’ race/ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and geographic location compared to the statewide college-going average of 59%. According to CHE, 49% of Hispanic/Latino students and 50% of black students are enrolled in college compared to 61% of white students and 73% of Asian students. According to Kohr, this trend can be attributed to income inequality between the black and Hispanic communities. In particular, Hispanic students are more likely to come from lower-income families, which automatically puts them at a disadvantage.

Geographically, Hamilton County has the highest college enrollment rate at 68%. On the other hand, La Grange County has the lowest college enrollment rate at 15%. According to Kohr: This is due to a combination of social and economic issues and how important higher education is in those provinces.

In particular, schools in Hamilton County have more funding. As a result, they have more resources for test preparation, early college credit, and dual credit that prepares students for college-level coursework. La Grange County schools do not have nearly the same amount of funding to provide their students with the resources they need for post-secondary education.

To bridge the college entrance gap, Indiana offers the 21st Century Scholarship, an income-based family scholarship and college preparation program that provides up to four years of tuition. According to CHE, 21st century students have an 88% higher college enrollment rate than their high-income and low-income peers, which are 64% and 35%, respectively.

As part of the scholarship, Students must complete the Scholar Success Program in high school. The program helps students submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), A form used to determine eligibility for financial assistance, It provides them with the resources needed for career success.

The 21st Century Scholarship Program is transformative for low-income students. It is the only program in Indiana that can close all achievement gaps across all genders, races, and socioeconomic status.” Kohr said.

According to Kohr, the decline in FAFSA registration numbers may indicate a continuing decline in registration numbers.

In order to increase enrollment, colleges need to focus on personal outreach and provide additional support to low-income students, which is essential for them to continue in higher education,” said Coyer.

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